Rats and Mice
Rats and mice are some of the most troublesome and damaging rodents in the United States. They eat and contaminate food, damage structures and property, and transmit parasites and diseases to other animals and humans. They live and thrive in a wide variety of climates and conditions and are often found in and around homes and other buildings, on farms, and in gardens and open fields.
People don’t often see rats, but signs of their presence are easy to detect. In California, the most troublesome rats are two introduced species, the roof rat and the Norway rat. It’s important to know which species of rat is present in order to choose effective control strategies.
Roof rats, sometimes called black rats, are slightly smaller than Norway rats. Unlike Norway rats, their tails are longer than their heads and bodies combined. Roof rats are agile climbers and usually live and nest above ground in shrubs, trees, and dense vegetation such as ivy. In buildings, they are most often found in enclosed or elevated spaces such as attics, walls, false ceilings, and cabinets. The roof rat has a more limited geographical range than the Norway rat, preferring ocean-influenced, warmer climates.
Like Norway rats, roof rats eat a wide variety of foods, but they prefer fruits, nuts, berries, slugs, and snails. Roof rats are especially fond of avocados and citrus, and they often eat fruit that is still on the tree. Their favorite habitats are attics, trees, and overgrown shrubbery or vines. Residential or industrial areas with mature landscaping provide good habitat as does riparian vegetation of riverbanks and streams. Roof rats prefer to nest in locations off the ground and rarely dig burrows for living quarters if off-the-ground sites exist.
Roof rats routinely travel up to 300 feet for food. They can live in the landscaping of one residence and feed at another. They can live in trees or in attics and climb down to a food source. The average number of litters a female roof rat has per year depends on many factors, but generally it is 3 to 5 with 5 to 8 young in each litter.
House mice are small rodents with relatively large ears and small, black eyes. They weigh about 1/2 ounce and usually are light brownish to gray. An adult is about 5 to 7 inches long, including the 3- to 4-inch tail.
Droppings, fresh gnaw marks, and tracks indicate areas where mice are active. Mouse nests are made from finely shredded paper or other fibrous material, usually in sheltered locations. House mice have a characteristic musky odor that reveals their presence. Mice are active mostly at night, but they can be seen occasionally during daylight hours.
Health / Disease
According to the Centers for Disease Control, worldwide, rats and mice spread over 35 diseases. These diseases can be spread to humans directly, through handling of rodents, through contact with rodent feces, urine, or saliva, or through rodent bites. Diseases carried by rodents can also be spread to humans indirectly, through ticks, mites or fleas that have fed on an infected rodent. Inhaling dust from dried rodent urine, feces and nesting material can also result in illness. Pregnant women, children, the elderly and those who are immuno-compromised should be particularly careful to protect themselves from rodent carried illnesses.
The most common diseases cause by rodents are Zoonoses, Rat Bite Fever, Lymphonocytic Choriomeningitis, Leprospirosis, Salmonellosis, Hantavirus, and Rabies. If you think you have come into contact with rodents and are having symptoms contact your health care professional immediately.
Wild mice and rats can cause home damage, contaminate food and cause illness in people and pets. Fat Cat Exterminators can quickly rid your home or business of rodents, using our advanced pest control technologies. We also offer rodent proofing and decontamination services.
Our page on rodent control in Orange County and Los Angeles County tells you about the approaches we use to control them.
To schedule a free inspection or make an appointment, contact us today.